Wireless network provider Meraki announced Tuesday that its Wi-Fi access point equipment has received USDA Rural Development Acceptance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service (RUS).
What this means is that municipalities and counties can qualify for stimulus funding to buy Meraki (and other vendors') products to bring broadband access to educational institutions and under-served areas of the U.S., including rural communities.
One could argue that there are more important things that can be brought to rural areas, but the government program is designed not only to stimulate the economy but also increase the use of technology across a user base that is under-served by technology.
A Wi-Fi cloud not only brings the Internet, but also education, entertainment, and low-cost communication through e-mail and voice over Internet Protocol.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 appropriated $7.2 billion and directed USDA RUS and the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) to expand broadband access to unserved and under-served communities across the U.S., increase jobs, spur investments in technology and infrastructure, and provide long-term economic benefits. The result is the RUS Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) and the NTIA Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). BIP will make loans and grants for broadband infrastructure projects in rural areas. BTOP will provide grants to fund broadband infrastructure, public computer centers, and sustainable broadband adoption projects. More information is available at this Web site. In addition, stimulus funds for technology initiatives are available from the Department of Education Recovery Act programs. More information on these programs can be found here.
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